The printing, commercial photography and reproduction industries are important worldwide in terms of their economic significance. The printing industry is very diverse in technologies and in size of enterprises. However, regardless of size as measured by production volume, the different printing technologies described in this chapter are the most common. In terms of production volume, there are a limited number of large-scale operations, but many small ones. From the economic perspective, the printing industry is one of the largest industries and generates annual revenues of at least US$500 billion worldwide. Similarly, the commercial photography industry is diverse, with a limited number of large-volume and many small-volume operations. Photofinishing volume is about equally divided between the large and small-volume operations. The commercial photographic market generates annual revenues of approximately US$60 billion worldwide, with photofinishing operations comprising approximately 40% of this total. The reproduction industry, which consists of smaller-volume operations with combined annual revenues of about US$27 billion, generates close to 2 trillion copies annually. In addition, reproduction and duplication services on an even smaller scale are provided onsite at most organizations and companies.
Health, environmental and safety issues in these industries are evolving in response to substitutions with potentially less hazardous materials, new industrial hygiene control strategies, and the advent of new technologies, such as the introduction of digital technologies, electronic imaging and computers. Many historically important health and safety issues (e.g., solvents in the printing industry or formaldehyde as a stabilizer in photoprocessing solutions) will not be issues in the future due to material substitution or other risk management strategies. Nevertheless, new health, environmental and safety issues will arise that will have to be addressed by health and safety professionals. This suggests the continued importance of health and environmental monitoring as part of an effective risk management strategy in the printing, commercial photography and reproduction industries.